Daniel Ricciardo says he'll need a championship winning car from Red Bull next season if his team wants to keep him on-board for 2019.
Red Bull Racing was foreseen as Mercedes' most likely challenger at the outset of 2017, but the Milton Keynes-based team, while often racing in close proximity to front-runners Mercedes and Ferrari, has never been in the hunt for the championship.
Now in his fourth season with Red Bull Racing, the five-time Grand Prix winner is growing impatient and understandably wants to fight for the title.
"I went through that impatient phase for sure, and I am still bordering that – because I don't want to leave F1 without a championship," Ricciardo said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com.
"At least right now, I still believe I can do that absolutely. I am looking for it – sooner rather than later."
After a difficult start to its 2017 campaign, marked by correlation discrepancies between its wind-tunnel data and track data, Red Bull's performance improved following several upgrades to its RB13 chassis.
Ricciardo pulled off a win at Baku earlier this summer but has struggled to consistently keep up with his silver and red rivals up ahead.
The Honey Badger, whose availability in 2019 is of much interest to both Mercedes and Ferrari, would like nothing more than to win the title with his current squad, but if it can't deliver the goods, he'll likely move on to greener pastures.
"I've been here for quite a few years now and I think next year we need to make a bigger step next year than we did this year, to really convince me that I can win with them.
"Do I want to win with them? Absolutely. I think that would complete the story as well. Seb [Vettel] got to complete it – he is the only guy. So my heart would love to. But we will see.
"I want an opportunity to be able to win week in and week out, while I believe I am still at the top.
"I think whatever I choose to do next, let's say I have got decisions to make once my Red Bull contract is up.
"It is the first time in my professional career that I've been a free agent – it is something I've never really had before. I've been with Red Bull since the start and it has been awesome and all that.
"But it is up to them as well if they would want to continue, and then it is a decision where I think it will be best."